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Overtime: You Know It's Coming

Preds Have Played at Least One Overtime Game in Previous Seven Trips to the Postseason

by John Glennon @glennonsports /

It's coming. We all know it's coming. It's simply a matter of when.

Just because the Predators' white-knuckle, 1-0 win over Chicago on Thursday wasn't an overtime classic doesn't mean we won't be seeing one - or more - before this series is over.

These are the Predators, after all, and this is the postseason. Extra hockey has become the expectation around here.

The Preds have played at least one overtime game in each of their previous seven trips to the playoffs. They've even managed to ratchet up that playoff overtime rate in recent years, averaging two overtime games in each of their last four postseason journeys.

So why should this series against the Blackhawks, which began with a hold-your-breath regulation victory by the Preds, be any different?

Whether you're the kind of fan who lives for the thrill of the game-winning overtime goal or cringes in fear with every overtime shot against, you'd better be ready.

"I would think the odds of at least one overtime game are probably pretty good - at least I think we have to be prepared for it," Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said. "The reality is that you have evenly matched teams and come playoff time, you're really trying to eliminate mistakes and risks, so maybe there's not as many turnovers and scoring chances in a game.

"Usually that means lower-scoring games, and a lot of times it's tied going into the last few minutes. Then usually both teams kind of lock it down and all of a sudden it's overtime."

Video: SJS@NSH, Gm4: Fisher slides winner past Jones

Overtime games are the ones people remember. Here's proof: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman scored a combined 762 goals in the regular season and playoffs. But type "Yzerman goal" into Google search and the first suggestion that pops up is "Yzerman goal against Blues."

That's because more than 20 years after his 60-foot, double-overtime slapshot gave Detroit a Game Seven win over St. Louis in the Western Conference playoffs, it's still the goal that - to many - stands out above all his others.

"As a kid, I grew up watching the Wings all the time," said Predators forward Austin Watson, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, native. "You always think about Stevie Y against the Blues, walking over the blue line and hammering that slap shot. That's the overtime memory that pops up in my mind."

The Preds, of course, produced a couple of monstrous memory-makers in last year's second-round series against San Jose.

Mike Fisher delivered the first when - at 1:03 a.m., over 11 minutes into the third overtime - he smacked home a rebound to give the Preds a 4-3 victory in Game Four of the longest contest in franchise history.

"It was amazing, the work and effort that goes through six periods of hockey," Preds center Ryan Johansen recalled. "You're just throwing everything on the line for that amount of time, and to get rewarded is pretty awesome."

Video: SJS@NSH, Gm6: Arvidsson's backhander wins it in OT

Only four nights later, in front of the same raucous Nashville fans, Viktor Arvidsson lifted a sharply angled backhander into the net 2:03 into the first overtime, giving the Preds a 4-3 overtime victory in Game Six.

What's interesting about overtime games is that some players will tell you they are neither as tired - at least not in the moment - nor as nervous as one might suspect.

"We were all eating energy bars, bananas, power gels, stuff like that," Rinne said of the epic triple-overtime win against San Jose. "But every single intermission, nobody even said they were tired. It's funny. You feel like you could go all night or all morning or whatever, as many overtimes as it takes."

While fans are understandably even more on edge in overtime - knowing that every shot might be the game's last - Rinne says the fact that players have already skated and sweated through three periods has a settling effect on their nerves.

"I think it's way easier to stay in the moment and stay relaxed when it's that point of the game," Rinne said. "You've already played a long game, so you have that rhythm going and that confidence going. So at least for me, personally, I never take any extra pressure going into overtime."

Video: Arvidsson taps in Forsberg's feed for the only goal

So when should Predators fans expect to go past 60 minutes this playoff series?

Many media types are already forecasting a Monday overtime contest, since Game Three's 8:30 p.m. start will already have wreaked havoc on deadlines.

History tells us, though, that the Preds have gone to overtime more in Games One (three times) and Five (also three times) than in any of their other playoff contests. Since Game One is already done, perhaps Game Five should now be the focus.

After all, we know it's coming at some point. It's just a matter of when.

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